I guess you could say that Brooke Dempsey and I are rivals. That's not entirely accurate, though, because if you look it up in the dictionary "rival" means "one that equals or almost equals another." If anything, Brooke and I are complete opposites. Her voice is deep and rich, mine is high and airy. She's imposing and confident, I'm small and . . . not. Socially we're on different planets altogether, the biggest difference being that Brooke is ridiculously popular.
Why, then, should somebody like her care enough to hate somebody like me?
It's a long story.
For the past two years, somebody from our school as won the Blackmore. This year is my turn. All I have to do is keep Kathryn in her place, which should be easy when you consider who I am, and who she is.
But I learned a long time ago that you can't assume anything when it comes to her.
I learned it the hard way.
Brooke Dempsey and Kathryn Pease used to be friends*. Best friends, even. Right up until Brooke punched Kathryn in the face at last year's Homecoming. Now, as seniors, the closest they come to interacting is as each other's** Best Rival.
The girls take turns narrating their story in the present and the past, providing both perspectives on the arc of their friendship. Rival is a solid contemporary YA drama: Brooke and Kathryn have distinct voices and they're both flawed yet relatable. Sara Bennett Wealer deals with both characters fairly: They both do some really rotten things and some really decent things. Even better, she never tips the balance: It never feels like one character is supposed to be more In The Right than the other. Because of that, I never chose one to root for -- and never even wanted to -- which is a rare (and welcome) thing when it comes to this sort of story.
Obviously, it's not a new storyline -- and their family situations are perfectly parallel opposites, which I found overly GRASS IS ALWAYS GREENER/HERE'S SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT/EVERYONE HAS ISSUES, REGARDLESS OF HOW IT LOOKS FROM THE OUTSIDE -- but until the very last page, I wasn't sure if they'd reconcile, who'd win the competition, or if, for that matter, both of them would decide to compete. So it certainly kept me reading, and I enjoyed it enough that I'll be keeping an eye out for her next book.
Definitely a good pick for fans of the genre, if they're looking for something comfortably engrossing.
*Yes, it's in my head, too:
**I had to look up the rule for this, as my brain seems to have stopped working this morning. It still looks weird.
Book source: ILLed through my library.